It’s been six years that one of the biggest superstars the world has ever seen left us. Michael Jackson was an era, spanning over 4 decades of glory, agony, unmatched success, attacks on personal life and some top notch music and dance. Born on August 29, 1958, Michael Jackson was a Virgo and like all other Virgos, he was a thinker. He created such phenomenal music during his career that the success he achieved remains a dream for everyone else even today.
Michael Jackson’s 1982 album ‘Thriller’ is still the highest grossing music album ever with around 51 to 65 million copies sold so far. Other albums including HIStory (1995), Dangerous (1991), Bad (1987) and Off The Wall (1979) also rank among the highest grossing albums.
Jackson started off his career as a child artist in his father’s band, Jackson Brothers. However, he soon started sharing lead vocals with his brother Jermaine. The group’s name was then changed to ‘Jackson 5’. It was a time when the colored in the United States were transforming their lives through music and some of the finest music surfaced during these years in the US.
After working for a few years for Steeltown Records, the Jackson 5 switched to Motown in 1969. The group saw great success during the early years at Motown but later the sales started to decline and finally the partnership was over in 1975.
Jackson 5 was then renamed to ‘Jacksons’ as Jermaine opted to stay with the Motown and the younger brother Randy joined the group formally. Michael Jackson was still the lead songwriter of the band and wrote some big hits of the time including This Place Hotel and Can You Feel It . However, his life took the most beautiful turn when he was offered a movie in 1978, The Wiz. The film was a box office disaster but it led Michael to meet Quincey Jones. Jones produced ‘Off the Wall’ with Michael in 1979 and the album was a massive hit. 4 songs rose to the Top 10 charts and over 20 million copies of the album were sold.
But this was just a trailer of what was to follow. In 1982, ‘Thriller’ was released. This album smashed all the previous records and set new ones that are yet to be broken. With over 65 million copies sold, the album is still the biggest hit the world of music has ever seen. It topped the Billboard 200 chart for 37 consecutive weeks and remained in the Top 200 for 80 weeks in a row. Thriller’s zombie-styled video was selected by the National Film Registry as “work of enduring importance to American culture … to be preserved for all time”.
In 1983, Michael Jackson reunited with his brothers for a live performance. Initially, he turned the offer down but later accepted it in exchange of a solo performance along with the group performance. Here, he performed ‘Billy Jean’ and for the first time, with his black-sequined jacket and golf glove, Michael debuted his signature dance move, the moonwalk. Berry Gordy said of the performance, “from the first beat of Billie Jean, I was mesmerized, and when he did his iconic moonwalk, I was shocked, it was magic, Michael Jackson went into orbit, and never came down.”
Bad came in 1987. Michael Jackson had already been the cover story for many true and false rumors about him. For example, when his color started to go pale from black, he was suspected of bleaching his skin for getting paler, which was later confirmed, there were claims by doctors and skin specialists that Michael was suffering from lupus. Although he did have skin problems and was diagnosed with vitiligo, the disease wasn’t lupus. Moreover, he leaked untrue rumors about him to the media in order to gain publicity but later stopped doing so as he started to despise the hyper-enthusiasm of the media to peak into his personal life.
Therefore, when Bad was launched, it was a massive hit. With 6 of its songs topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Bad broke all previous records as no single album had ever had that many songs topping the chart, including Thriller. The success was mammoth yet again. Over 45 million copies were sold worldwide while Michael’s earnings swelled to 125 million dollars for the year 1989. He was also the first Western star to appear in an advertisement in the Soviet Russia.
In 1991, Dangerous was released after Michael Jackson’s contract renewal with Sony for a staggering 65 million dollars, a new record at that time. Dangerous was yet another smash hit by the Moonwalker.
Michael Jackson Controversies
In 1993, Michael Jackson talked about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father during his childhood. He told that he used to be lashed by his father when he was a child as he taught him, and siblings, to sing.
That same year, first child sexual abuse case was registered against Michael. He was accused by a boy Jordan Chandler and his father. Though Michael rejected the claim at first, saying that the case had only been made to extort his money, he later negotiated an out-of-court settlement. He married Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley’s daughter, who held him together during these days. It was upon her advice that Michael decided to have an out-of-court settlement with the Chandler’s.
In 1995, Michael Jackson’s last album HIStory was released in a series, the first containing the Greatest 15. It is the best-selling multiple-disc album till date and over 40 million copies were sold worldwide.
But after HIStory, controversies surrounded him from all sides and almost all his money was spent in legal wars that he had to fight on multiple fronts. Even his smash hit “They don’t care about us” was alleged of being anti-Semitic and he had to release an altered version without the offending lyrics later. First he had to go into a legal disagreement with Sony. He later found that his lawyer who had represented him during the deal was actually a Sony’s man.
So when ‘Invincible’ was released in October 2001, it wasn’t received as anticipated; mainly because Michael didn’t promote it internationally before release and also because of the title dispute. Moreover, it wasn’t the right time for music industry as the 911 had just happened. All in all, it was a lesser hit compared to his previous albums with around 13 million copies sold worldwide.
From 2003 to 2005, while Michael was on a world tour, he was once again accused of child abuse. The case started in January 2005 and Michael was acquitted in May 2005 as the court found the charges unfounded.
His celebrated residence, the Neverland Ranch, was under constant threat from banks and monetary institutions as he had pledged his shares in it for loans. Most of his stake had been sold but he still retained a stake in the property at the time of his death.
Time spent in Bahrain
Michael Jackson moved to Bahrain for a while as a personal guest of Sheikh Abdullah after he was acquitted by the court in the child sexual abuse case.
In March 2009, Michael Jackson announced to hold the “This is It” series of worldwide concerts with 10 concerts in London and then more in New York city, Paris and Mumbai. He announced that it would be last of his concert tours and all the concerts had already been sold out when on June 25, 2009, Jackson died of a cardiac arrest.
The news of his death went viral and many websites suffered outages as the netizens rushed to their PCs in order to confirm the death. Los Angeles Times crashed while Google believed initially that it was under DDoS attack and blocked Michael Jackson related searches for 30 minutes. Twitter also crashed while AOL Messenger was out for 40 minutes. His albums had resurgence after his death as 35 million albums were sold worldwide that year.
Controversies didn’t let go of him even after his death as immediately cries of poisoning him to death were heard from various quarters. His death was termed a homicide by the Los Angeles County Coroner. The autopsy report said that he was quite healthy at the time of his death and his heart was “very strong”. Although Fox News said that he had been emaciated, Associated Press said that his weight was acceptable. He was alleged of drug use after his death and there were family disputes as well. But Michael Jackson, one of the greatest of 20th century stars, rests in peace at Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
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